May 2018
Howle's Hints

May Motivation

“You may delay, but time will not.” ~ Ben Franklin

May is a month to stay motivated or get motivated if you’re not already. Staying on a schedule is essential this time of year. There are fences to be mended, gardens to be tended, hay to be baled and bills to be mailed.

Ben Franklin was a prolific writer, inventor, political leader and hard worker, but the thing I think made him so successful was his daily schedule. He would rise at 5, wash, have his quiet time with God, and "take resolution of the day" by asking the question, "What good shall I do this day?" Taking resolution of the day was an active not passive action where he would use positive thinking to have the day work for him, instead of passively allowing the day to have its way with him.

He worked four hours without distraction before lunch, took a one-hour lunch and worked four more hours. This gave him eight uninterrupted hours of work each day. During the last few minutes of his workday, he would put his tools and other things back in their place, so the next day he could start fresh.

Finally, in the evening, Franklin would take time to relax and ask himself the question, "What good have I done today?" He would often spend the last three hours of the day dining with friends, listening to music and having some type of diversion to unwind. After getting eight hours of sleep, he would do it all again the next day.



Have separate strands crossing the creek and don’t attach them to each other in case lower strands need to break away with debris.

Up the Creek

The recent rains can wreak havoc on fences that cross the creeks on your property. You can build elaborate, lightweight structures to keep cattle fenced in, but, whenever that huge downpour results in an overflowing creek, nothing’s going to spare your fence. Whether you are using barbed wire, slick wire or cable, when the creek is up and overflowing, you might as well be trying to stop a bulldozer with a strand of barbed wire because the force of an overflowing creek has the same power.

Instead, take the approach that, from time to time, fences crossing creeks just have to be replaced. With this in mind, you can simply extend three or four strands of barbed wire across the creek. Hopefully, you can find a tree on one side of the creek, or, if you are truly fortunate, you might have trees on both sides. I do not attach the wires to each other. In addition, I only put in a staple or two to hold the wire in place. This way, if debris begins collecting on a lower strand, it’s the only strand that breaks away, preserving the strands above (hopefully). In the photo, I attached a sign that had washed down the creek to weigh that lower strand closer to the water.

I’m hoping that by placing a STOP sign across the creek the more polite cattle will read it and avoid getting out through the creek.


Your local Quality Co-op can help you determine the right mix for young calves trying to make it on their own.


Kick-Start for Calves

You might be an expert when it comes to taking care of livestock, but, every now and then, you may have a mama cow die after giving birth to a calf. If the calf is old enough to graze on its own, its chances of survival are much greater. First, give the calf additional feed in the form of a mixture from your local Quality Co-op. The qualified and experienced personnel at the Co-op can give you the right mix for the calf to supplement the missing milk.

Once the calf shows enough vitality to make it on its own, you can turn the calf loose with the rest of the herd. Cattle are herd animals, and they thrive much better in the presence of other cattle. In addition, a young calf may often rob other lactating cows in the herd. With the feed boost and help from the herd, the calf should be able to make it to maturity even though its growth may be slightly stunted.


Cattle Tub for Road Repair

During the April rains, it is quite likely potholes and washouts have developed in your access roads. When you just need a few spots fixed, a 140-gallon cattle tub makes an ideal gravel carrier.

If you have a front-end loader on your tractor, simply scoop some creek gravel out of the creek. Creek gravel packs well. If you don’t have access to a front-end loader, you can throw the tub in the back of your truck and have a local cement yard fill the tub with gravel such as crush and run.

If you will tell the bucket operator to only load the corner of the bucket, this makes filling the tub easier and prevents spilling over into your truck bed.



Keep the stump table near your fire pit or campfire for holding drinks or snacks.

Chain Saw Furniture

With nothing more than a chain saw, you can make a sturdy, decorative table to go near your fire pit or outdoor gathering area. A stump will obviously have a natural look, and the best part is it’s free. We had a large maple topple over during last winter’s snow with snow depths of 10 inches at my house.

When the weather warmed up a bit, I cut out the larger diameter stump section. If you make a careful sighting, you can cut the stump square with the ground, and the top will also be level when standing upright.

Before setting the stump in place near your fire pit, cut a 1.5-inch slice off the top of the stump. This slice can be sanded, stained and used as a serving tray.


This May, get yourself motivated to think positive and be productive because time will not delay.


John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.